New Whiskies

Batch 179

by
Bushmills Rum Cask, Bowmore 19 French Oak, Christmas Malt, Royal Lochnagar 30, Teeling Single Pot Still, Red Spot

This week Becky Paskin divides her attentions between Scotland and Ireland, taking in a range of whiskies from a three-year-old Dublin debut to a ‘marvellous’ Amazon exclusive from Bowmore.

Leading the line-up is a festive-themed 17-year-old Speysider bottled by Elixir Distillers for The Whisky Exchange, which with its Sherry-sodden Christmas cake notes, is deemed perfect for a hipflask, albeit with a drop of water.

Paskin moves onto a 19-year-old Bowmore bottled exclusively for Amazon, which also happens to be the first whisky from the Islay distillery matured exclusively in French oak ex-red wine barriques. ‘Synergistic, almost effervescent,’ she says, while gawping at the price.

Skipping over the Irish Sea to County Antrim, she picks up the latest Bushmills travel retail exclusive, a triple-distilled, rum cask-matured single malt from the Steamship Collection. Light and sweet, and despite being left wanting for more action, she deems it a ‘crowd-pleaser’.

Next up is Red Spot, a 15-year-old single pot still brimming with red fruits and spices, which Paskin says marks a ‘very welcome’ return for the expression to the Mitchell & Sons Spot series.

Back to Scotland and up to Royal Lochnagar where a 30-year-old single cask gifted to HRH Prince Charles, the Duke of Rothesay, has been bottled to raise funds for the Prince’s Foundation. Fruity and grassy, waxy and light, it’s everything she’d expect from the Deeside distillery.

From the oldest whisky in the batch to the youngest, Paskin ends with the inaugural release produced at Dublin’s Teeling distillery. The three-year-old single pot still, matured in a combination of ex-Bourbon, virgin oak and ex-wine casks, is surprisingly complex given its age, and shows ‘exciting promise’ for the future.

This week’s whisky reviews are accompanied by an eclectic playlist featuring Robbie Williams, the Eurythmics, T.Rex and the Black Eyed Peas.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • A Fine Christmas Malt 2018, 17 Years Old (Elixir Distillers)

    A Fine Christmas Malt 2018, 17 Years Old (Elixir Distillers)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    58.7%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Availability
    The Whisky Exchange exclusive
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Cor, that’s some nose. Toffee sauce and brandy butter. A Christmas pudding, stuffed with walnuts and dried citrus peel, has been well fed with oloroso Sherry or Tawny Port. Amid the sweetness it’s rather meaty, like maple-glazed bacon. Water develops a much fruitier, fragrant quality.

    Palate

    Viscous, and quite sweet and syrupy at first, as baking spices – cinnamon, anise, allspice – emerge. A battle ensues between the thick syrupy sweetness and what’s becoming an overwhelming heat, which mingles with oak tannins for some staying power. A touch of water diminishes the spice, allowing the flavours to relax and revealing more orchard fruits, roasted nuts and nutmeg.

    Finish

    Bready, more cakey now, some marzipan and oloroso.

    Conclusion

    Skip Christmas pud (no-one likes it anyway) and fill this into your hipflask for an after-dinner walk. Just add a drop of water.

    Right place, right time

    It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (but remember to stay hydrated).

    Bowmore 19 Years Old, French Oak Barrique

    Bowmore 19 Years Old, French Oak Barrique
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    48.9%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Availability
    Amazon exclusive
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    The smoke (of a roaring log fire) is immediate, although non-intrusive and intertwined with an apple compote and vanilla cream sweetness. Then blackcurrant menthols – like sucking on a cherry Tune in a pine forest, heather honey and chocolate pralines.

    Palate

    Sweet and thick, developing into dark bramble fruits, ripe banana and roasted hazelnuts, with a light citric note of clementine and lime zest. It’s spicy, but not hot – the interplay between the sweetness of the fruits, the light peat smoke and wood spice is synergistic, almost effervescent.

    Finish

    A lingering dry, ashy smoke.

    Conclusion

    Bowmore’s first full maturation in French oak is a marvel, if on the pricey side for a 19-year-old.

    Right place, right time

    Drunk online shopping, but with No Regrets.

    Bushmills Rum Cask Reserve, The Steamship Collection

    Bushmills Rum Cask Reserve, The Steamship Collection
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Ireland
    Availability
    Travel retail exclusive
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    That Caribbean influence is immediately apparent in aromas of tropical fruit salad dripping with pineapple, cantaloupe melon and papaya. An undertone of crunchy malt reminds you it’s still a single malt whiskey, and not a rum, although those baking spices, cinnamon and muscovado sugar are out to fool you.

    Palate

    Lighter than expected, and less fruit than the nose suggests although what fruit there is has become caramelised. Spices rear up toward the middle, giving way to creamy toffee, oak and lemon zest with an uplifting minty sensation.

    Finish

    Again, I’m waiting for those tropical fruits from the nose, or even some grip from the cask, but it remains light and sadly short.

    Conclusion

    Although matured fully in a first-fill rum cask, it could have done with staying in it a touch longer. That said, its lightness and sweetness would make it a crowd-pleaser.

    Right place, right time

    Sail Away (but I want to hold on).

    Red Spot, 15 Years Old

    Red Spot, 15 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single Pot Still
    Region
    Ireland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Mouth-wateringly fruity but a touch musty, like an old packet of wine gums. As it opens in the glass, those fruit sweeties trip over themselves, and things become more luscious – gooey Jelly Baby centres, a raw brick of Rowntrees strawberry jelly, black pepper-spiked blackcurrant and raspberry coulis, orange zest and vanilla cream. It’s weighted by a sweet, crunchy maltiness, akin to a thick crumble topping.

    Palate

    More soft bramble fruits, strawberry jam, cooked plums, raspberry leaf tea and orange rind, with a smoky richness from a well-charred cask. Some spice emerges around the middle, the wood tannins preventing things becoming overly sweet. Creamy and lush.

    Finish

    Somewhat elevated and spicy, with a surprising note of spearmint and ash.

    Conclusion

    The use of American oak, oloroso Sherry and Marsala wine casks has given this latest iteration in the Mitchell & Son Spot series a sumptuous red fruits edge. Long awaited and very welcome.

    Right place, right time

    Finally, a Sweet Dream becomes a reality.

    Royal Lochnagar 30 Years Old, Prince Charles Edition

    Royal Lochnagar 30 Years Old, Prince Charles Edition
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    52.6%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Availability
    The Whisky Exchange exclusive
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Gentle and attractive with a vanilla sweetness of lightly scorched Crème brûlée with caramelised peaches and Conference pear, moving into a hay bale grassiness. As it opens in the glass richer notes of marzipan and orange rind develop, becoming fruitier over time and almost waxy.

    Palate

    Light and a little peppery at first, with a dusty maltiness before the sweetness descends as baked apples, vanilla ice cream, French pastries with a thick dusting of confectioner’s sugar, and chocolate-coated hazelnuts, a characteristic drawn out more fully with water. Then more fruit – brambles – with a menthol accent of blackcurrant lozenges.

    Finish

    Surprisingly refreshing with a slightly peppery edge.

    Conclusion

    Royal Lochnagar’s multi-faceted personality in all its regal glory. Waxy, fruity, grassy and refreshing.

    Right place, right time

    Riding a White Swan through Ballater.

    Teeling Single Pot Still

    Teeling Single Pot Still
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single Pot Still
    Region
    Ireland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Distinctly malty and… green. You can really detect that unmalted barley. It’s so light and fresh, almost hoppy, with lemon curd, green apple skin, lime zest and an almost grounding vegetal scent of agave alongside a waft of loose dried tobacco. Sticky tropical fruits – guava, papaya – and a creamy nuttiness tug at the edges.

    Palate

    Bold spices on the tip of the tongue which relent marginally, allowing fruit cream to glide across the mid-palate, all peach, nectarine and vanilla with an accent of hazelnut and cheap advent calendar milk chocolate. That agave quality rears up halfway through, as the tone gradually become oakier, the tannins gripping the sides of the mouth. It remains somewhat peppery throughout. Things really sweeten up with a dash of water.

    Finish

    Creamy, vegetal and spicy.

    Conclusion

    Obviously still youthful at just three years old, but already shows exciting promise for the future. I’d like to see how this stands up in an Irish Margarita.

    Right place, right time

    A strong start for the Teeling distillery (Let’s Get It Started).

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